Mon, 14 Apr 2003

The 'Post' journalist wins award

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Jakarta Post's reporter I Wayan Juniartha won the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) Media Award 2003 for his honest and courageous reporting of issues related to the reduction in the use of illegal drugs.

The trophy plus a certificate was presented in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Thursday night by Indonesia's former minister of religion Tarmizi Taher during the closing ceremony of the 14th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm. The five-day conference was attended by over 920 delegates from 63 countries.

"The Award is our way to acknowledge the important role the media and journalists have in raising public awareness over various harms caused by drug using and the effective methods to address those dangers," IHRA executive director Patrick O'Hare said.

Juniartha wrote several articles about illicit drugs in The Jakarta Post since he joined the daily as Bali-based correspondent in 1999. His writings on the topic have also appeared in Kompas daily.

Senior Technical Advisor for FHI (Family Health International)/Aksi Stop AIDS (ASA) Prof. Wayne Wiebel, who has worked extensively with Indonesian's harm reduction NGOs and activists, said that Juniartha's name came up during his discussion with the conference director Ton Smits and Patrick O'Hare.

"There were several names on the list, and I suggested that Juniartha would be the best selection, not only because he deserved it but also because it would increase the visibility of Indonesia. Our work is focusing on a targeted population but we surely need the larger public's support and that's what the media do best," he said.

Juniartha, who was invited to cover the conference by the AHRN (Asian Harm Reduction Network), said that he was both humbled and honored by the award.

Speaking before the conference's participants he pointed out that journalists were just the witness in the struggle, in which the true fighters were the NGOs and activists, who had committed their lives to ensuring that drug users acquired better access to health, education and social services currently being denied to them.

AHRN also pledged to give Juniartha a full-scholarship to attend the 2004 conference in Melbourne.

Harm reduction or, in some countries, known as harm minimization is a series of comprehensive and pragmatic methods and approaches in reducing the harm caused by drug abuse to the society and individuals without necessarily putting an end to the practice itself. For many years, it has proven to be a very effective way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS from and among IDUs (Injecting Drug Users) in various countries.